Sunday, January 5, 2014

#52Ancestors Week 1: Johnston Adams

My first entry for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a simple one.  

My 4th great-grandfather, Johnston Adams was a brickwall for my distant cousin, Johanna Myatt who passed away a few years ago, and has been one for me, too.  The following is the text from an email sent to the Allegheny County, PA Rootsweb list  that was my first contact with Johanna in 1997.  

I would like to identify Johnston's parents and his wife Jane's family. I have not been able to place Johnston into the family of Dr. Samuel Adams who lived in St. Clair in the late 1700s early 1800s and then migrated to Beaver Falls. Through an agreement ("as compensation and not a bequeath") for the care of Thomas and Mary (FIFE) PATTERSON (a childless couple) dated 1837 Johnston acquires the land of Thomas and Mary PATTERSON after their death. The transfer of this land was disputed in court in 1866. The records indicate that in 1837 Johnston was residing on the land conveyed to him for about 7 years and he had done many acts of kindness. He abided by the contract and moved into the Patterson's house to give care until the time of Thomas's death in 1837 and did maintain the widow Mary until 1838 when she left the house and went to live with "another relative." The language of "as compensation and not a bequeath" and Mary moving in with "another relative" makes me suspect a connection between Johnston and/or his wife to the Pattersons or Fifes but I can't find it. There was also a dispute over the validity of Thomas Patterson's will in 1853 by heirs at law, William PATTERSON and John ----bower and his wife Sarah Jane Patterson. I have the 1820-1860 censuses, tax lists, all the real estate transactions on the parcel of property, and the orphan court records. Johnston's will stated to sell his property at public auction and divide between the children of Mary Fife, the children of Thomas P. Adams, and the children of Sarah Hultz. The executors were James W ROFF and John B. STILLEY. Witnesses: A. M. MORGAN and W. M. STILLEY

It would be wonderful to have the answers to these questions someday.  Mary Fife, wife of Thomas Patterson mentioned above, was a distant cousin of mine, and Johnston's daughter, Mary (Adams) Fife was my 3rd g-grandmother. 

Since that time, I have visited his grave at Bethel Cemetery, but he remains mostly a mystery to me still!


  1. Pretty smart posting this old email to Rootsweb -- I hope you make a connection.

  2. It would be great to find a cousin who knew everything there is to know about Johnston Adams :)


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